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Gourmet Pastas and Sauces on-line

Alice's Gelato Primer
What your Mother didn't tell you about Gelato.

(view more italian recipes!)

Gelato is a combination of whole milk, eggs, sugar, and natural flavoring -- or fresh fruit and sugar in the fruit flavors its a less firmly frozen, softer, more Intensely flavored and colored creation than ice cream.

Gelato is said to have been first created by Bernardo Buontalenti for the court of Francesco de' Medici in 1565. Italians eat gelato only in the summer months. Because of this, the owners of the gelateria in Pavia go to Denmark in the winter time and sell gelato there.

We ate gelato on weekend afternoons or in the evening after dinner we took a pleasant stroll in the warm air down to the gelateria which is on the Ticino River in Pavia.

The best fruit gelato is made from crushed fresh ripe seasonal fruit. Although freezing should diminish flavors, somehow gelato winds up tasting more intense than the fruit from which it has been made. The best milk-based gelato is flavored with all-natural ingredients and has a silky consistency. They will all melt faster than ice cream does. Colors should be natural, not too bright. If the pistachio is bright green, it's been artificially colored and probably artificially flavored. Fruit flavors should reflect seasonal fruits. Gelato sitting in plastic bins is industrially produced; homemade gelato is always stored in stainless-steel bins, which can be sterilized and used again.

see also

Gelato : Italian Ice Cream, Sorbetti, and Granite
semifreddo, means "half cold," semifreddo refers to any of various chilled or partially frozen desserts including cake, ice cream whipped cream. and is made from the same base as gelato but has whipped cream folded in. It vaguely resembles a mousse, which is what the chocolate flavor is called.

sorbetto (Fruit Sorbet) has become popular in many Italian restaurants and is sometimes served half- way through the meal to separate the fish and meat courses and act as a palate cleanser. It also makes a wonderful dessert.

granita is frozen ice water. It usually, but not always, comes in lemon or coffee flavors.

At this point, you may want to rush out to try these delicious cold summer treats, many of which are easily available in the Bay Area. That is your homework.

Here are some recipes to try.

Gelato - Basic Recipe
1 qt whole milk
1 cup sugar
10 egg yolks
grated rind of 1 lemon, pinch of salt

Bring the milk, less half a cup, to a boil in a stainless steel saucepan (do not use an aluminum container), adding the grated lemon rind and a pinch of salt. Remove from the fire. In a bowl whip the egg yolks with the sugar. Add the cold half-cup of milk then add the hot milk a little at a time. Put the mixture in a pot on the fire and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow to boil. When the mixture begins to thicken, pour it into a bowl and cool, stirring frequently. Strain through a fine sieve. Once entirely cooled, put the mixture in an ice-cream machine and churn until it reaches the proper consistency. Place in an ice cream freezer. NOTE: The churning time varies according to the ice cream machine used. An ice cream freezer holds a temperature just below freezing

Chocolate Gelato Hotel Cipriani, Venice
This dessert is simply luxurious, but beginners may want a few tips from our tester.

1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3 1/2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
4 large egg yolks, beaten lightly

In a dry 3-quart heavy saucepan cook 1/4 cup sugar, undisturbed, over moderate heat until it begins to melt and cook, stirring with a fork, until melted completely and deep golden brown. Remove pan from heat and dip pan briefly into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. (Caramel will harden.) Cool pan about 5 minutes and return to heat. Add milk and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until caramel is melted. Whisk in cocoa until combined well and keep mixture warm.

In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (or a double boiler), melt chocolate, stirring, and remove from heat.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg yolks with remaining 3/4 cup sugar until thick and pale. Whisk in caramel mixture and chocolate in streams, whisking until combined. Pour custard into another 3-quart heavy saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer registers 140� F. Cook custard, stirring (do not let it boil) 4 minutes more and remove pan from heat. Cool custard completely and freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.

Gelato will keep in the freezer for one week.

Makes about 3 cups.

Gelato al Caffe' - Coffee Gelato
This gelato is an all-time favorite.

5 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water

Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Bring milk to boil in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk hot milk into egg mixture; then whisk in espresso mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, about 8 minutes (do not boil). Refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Process custard in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze in covered container. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

Serves 6

Semifreddo with Pears and Toasted Hazelnuts
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1/2 cup chopped husked toasted hazelnuts
3 tablespoons Frangelico or other nut liqueur
1 ounce bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup Frangelico liqueur
Pinch of salt
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup light corn syrup

6 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 1x3-inch orange peel strips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 small firm ripe Anjou, Bartlett or Comice pears, peeled

1/4 cup chopped husked toasted hazelnuts
4 orange slices

For Semifreddo, line 8-inch square pan with plastic. Whip 3/4 cup cream to soft peaks in medium bowl. Mix ice cream, hazelnuts, liqueur, chocolate and orange peel in large bowl just until blended. Gently fold in whipped cream. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; smooth top. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. (Can be prepared 4 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

For Sauce bring cream, liqueur and salt to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let stand 3 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in corn syrup. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Pears, stir first 4 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, add pears and simmer until pears are just tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pears from poaching liquid. Cool pears and syrup separately. Return pears to syrup and refrigerate until cold. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead.)

Stir chocolate sauce over low heat until warm. Cut semifreddo into 4 squares. Place 1 semifreddo piece in each of 4 bowls. Remove pears from syrup with slotted spoon. Place pears atop semifreddo. Spoon chocolate sauce over pears to coat, letting extra sauce drizzle onto semifreddo and plate. Sprinkle with nuts. Garnish with orange slices and serve.

Sorbetto al Limone -- Lemon Sherbet
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint water
The zest of a half a lemon
The juice of three lemons

Bring the sugar, water and lemon zest to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool, stir in the lemon juice, and make the sherbet, following the instructions given by the manufacturer of your ice cream machine.

You can also make lime sherbet, substituting limes for lemons, or orange sherbet, using the juice of three oranges and one lemon. If you choose to make the latter, reduce the sugar somewhat since oranges are naturally sweeter than lemons or limes.

6 servings

Gelu i Muluni - Water Melon Sherbet
2 lbs. water melon pulp
4 Tbs. jasmine water (or orange-flower water)
3 cups sugar
7 oz finely minced chocolate
3 oz. shelled and chopped pistachios
7 oz finely diced candied pumpkin
1 Tbs. powdered cinnamon

Sieve the melon, mix the resulting puree with the jasmine water and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and churn. Mix the resulting ice with the chocolate, pistachios, candied pumpkin, 1 tsp. of cinnamon and the remaining sugar. Stir gently and pour the resulting mixture into a round mold (preferably lined with oiled paper). Cover and freeze for at least two hours. Remove the sherbet from, the mold and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving. If possible, decorate with jasmine flowers or lemon leaves

Granita al Limone - Lemon Ice
2 cups water
2 cups strained fresh lemon juice (about 20 lemons)
2 cups sugar

Combine lemon juice and water in a small sauce pan. Stir in sugar, blending well. Heat over moderate heat, bringing to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour into a shallow pan such as an 8" square cake pan and freeze. Mixture should freeze in 3 to 6 hours and be soft enough to serve. (note, I add some lemon zest to the mixture after it cools to room temp)

(This recipe was contributed by reader Jacqueline McFee)

Granita al Caffe' - Coffee Granita
This cool Italian dessert is the perfect conclusion to a pasta dinner.

1 cup freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
4 tablespoons vanilla frozen yogurt or light ice cream, softened slightly

Pour coffee into pie plate. Add sugar and rum to coffee and stir until sugar dissolves. Freeze until mixture becomes slushy around edges, about 30 minutes. Continue freezing, stirring mixture every 20 minutes, until mixture is slushy, about 1 hour. Freeze until firm. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover.)

Scrape granita with spoon to break ice into small pieces. Divide granita between goblets. Top each with 2 tablespoons frozen yogurt and serve.

Serves 2.


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